A cartel operative, Mexican intelligence agent, and U.S. narcotics agent – seasoned veterans all – opine that cartel violence, especially against the government in Mexico, has gotten so out of control that El Chapo was allowed to walk out of prison so he could knock off a few cartels and restore relative order. Too much violence is bad for business. It interferes with profits. And that interferes with bribes, money flowing across the border to our dirty banks and to London, and to all who are enriched by drug money. So really, isn’t it best to allow the leader of Sinaloa, the strongest cartel, to kick some ass so business can get back to normal? Well, not really, because it implies Mexico is a failing state and can no longer fight the cartels. Not that corrupt elites care much about that.
They were convinced it was all a deal cut at some link in the system’s chain. Our breakfast minister even thought that Chapo had likely walked out the front door of the jail, and that the whole tunnel-and-motorcycle story had been staged to make the feat sound so ingenious that the government couldn’t have foreseen it, much less stopped it.
Such an outlandish notion may not be surprising to anyone who knows anything about Mexico. But as someone who lived there for 10 years, and reported on the country almost twice that long, what surprised me were the men’s theories on why anyone in the Mexican government would have been interested in such a deal. Perhaps, I wondered aloud, Chapo had possessed information that could have incriminated senior Mexican officials in the drug trade and, rather than try him, they had agreed to turn a blind eye to his escape?
The heads around the table shook back and forth. Chapo, they believed, had been thrown back into the drug world to — wait for it — restore order. Things have gotten that crazy.
The tunnel story is indeed a bit preposterous, isn’t it? Are we to believe no one heard a thing while it was being built. Chapo has vanished into the mountains, whereabouts unknown. Everyone is suitably gobsmacked and embarrassed. Ah well, it’s always better to appear idiotic than culpable.